Believe it or not, Jesus spoke about the reality of hell and its danger more than the comfort and hope of heaven so that people would come to trust in Him and repent.
In Matthew 10:28, Jesus warns His audience of the One who can both destroy the body and soul in hell. According to Jesus, hell is a real place where those who do not repent and trust in Christ will spend their eternity. In this article, I will present to you three aspects of hell so that you would be more grateful for your salvation and more motivated to preach the gospel to the loss.
First, the Scripture speaks of the reality of hell in the same term as the reality of heaven. In other words, hell is just as real as heaven. The Greek term translated “hell” is Gehenna, which occurs twelve times in the New Testament and relates to the Valley of Hinnom on the south and east sides of Jerusalem. In this place, the children were sacrificed in fire to Molech (2 Kings 23:10). When Jesus states that the body and soul will be destroyed in hell, then hell must be a real physical location.
Revelation 20:15 states that those who are not in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. The term “lake of fire” indicates a physical location where the unbelievers will experience physically their torment and suffering for eternity and feel the burn of the lake of fire.
Second, the Scripture describes hell as a physical place of eternal torment. Hell is eternal. It is not just a state of mind or temporal. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus states, “depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devils and angels.” Jesus described hell as a place of eternal fire (Matthew 25:41, Matthew 3:21, Mark 9:44-49 and Luke 16:23-24). Revelation 14:9-11 says, “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they shall have no rest, day or night” (Revelation 14:9-11). Again, this passage indicates that hell is an unending place of judgment. The punishment of hell is as eternal as the bliss of the righteous in heaven. Some argue that there is eternal conscious punishment for the lost, but this punishment is not a physical eternal punishment in a literal place of fire. They interpret the lake of fire not literally but only figuratively as the dramatic imagery to depict spiritual alienation from God. However, it fails to consider the fact that both all believers and unbelievers are granted bodies suited to fit their eternal destinies. Both believers and unbelievers will be resurrected in their physical bodies, and the nonbelievers shall stand before Jesus Christ as the judge to be judged accordingly.
Third, those who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will go to hell. Hell has been a controversial subject in recent years even among the evangelical. However, the controversy over the existence of hell is unnecessary because many Christians think that the reality of hell does not reflect the love of God. They believe that hell cannot exist because God is the God of love who is so loving that He cannot send people to hell. Therefore, they either redefine hell or completely reject it.
However, those reject the existence of hell ignore Jesus’ warning in Luke 12:5, which states, “But I will warn you whom to fear, fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” In John 3:3, Jesus even clearly explains the terms of the kingdom of God, that is, “unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Later in John 3:18, Jesus further explains in the simplest terms who will go to heaven and who will go to hell: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name God’s one and only Son.”
The idea of an eternal hell should be disturbing and frightening so that sinners like you and me would find Jesus as the loving Savior and run to Him for forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Hell should threaten us so that we would see the beauty of the gospel and embrace Jesus dearly for eternal life. Also, the reality of hell should fuel our evangelism as well. Knowing the reality of hell should motivate us to preach the gospel daily to our family, relatives, and our neighbors, to show them the beauty of the gospel, and warn them of the impending judgment. We should not avoid talking about hell and judgement in order not to be seen as harsh or cruel, even if the truth hurts. We need to boldly speak of the truth concerning hell and judgment as well the gospel.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.